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Boston managed to knock off MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Milwaukee to win the 1974 Finals.
Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images

Abdul-Jabbar epic, but '74 Celtics walk away with title


Posted Mar 5 2013 3:54PM

The Milwaukee Bucks were favored to beat the Boston Celtics in the 1974 NBA Finals, thanks mostly to young Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won his third MVP award that season. But you could never count the Celtics out when it came to the Finals.

Boston grabbed a 3-2 lead in the series and had a chance to close out the series, but Abdul-Jabbar and the Bucks rose to the occasion in a Game 6 classic.

Milwaukee led by 12 points in the first half and by six in the stretch, but a long jumper by John Havlicek tied the score at 86-86 and the Bucks' Oscar Robertson was caught in a 24-second violation as time expired in regulation. With the Bucks leading late in the first overtime, Havlicek repeated his heroics, converting his own missed shot to tie the score at 90-90 and force a second extra session.

In the second overtime, Havlicek scored nine of Boston's 11 points, including a rainbow jumper over Abdul-Jabbar with seven seconds left for a 101-100 Boston lead. With the champagne about to be uncorked, Milwaukee called a timeout and set up one last play -- not for Abdul-Jabbar, but for swingman Jon McGlocklin. However, the play broke down when McGlocklin couldn't shake himself free as Abdul-Jabbar stood to the right of the lane with the ball. Abdul-Jabbar looked for someone else to pass to but could find no one, so he dribbled to the baseline, turned and put up his graceful sky-hook. It nestled through the net for a 102-101 Bucks win that tied the series at 3-3.

The Celtics bounced back like champions for Game 7 in Milwaukee. They changed strategy and began double-teaming Abdul-Jabbar, which freed Boston center Dave Cowens to concentrate more on offense. Cowens responded with 28 points and 14 rebounds as the Celtics coasted to a 102-87 win and Boston's 12th NBA title.

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